LETTER: State is right to serve habilitation residents

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | 9:28 p.m. CDT; updated 6:20 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 12, 2010

Kudos to the state’s Department of Mental Health for its decision to serve people currently living at Nevada Habilitation Center in the community. It’s a promising first step toward a hopeful future of phasing out an inordinately expensive, outdated model of supporting people with developmental disabilities.

While some people with developmental disabilities have needs for extraordinary support, their needs can be met in the community, close to family and friends. While the state’s decision to close a habilitation center is fiscally sound in a climate of budget crisis, there are other compelling reasons for pursuing this path. The habilitation center model is not only expensive: it's also contrary to an inclusive human experience.

Currently, 4,753 people with developmental disabilities are on a waiting list for services from the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. They aren’t waiting for segregated placement in a habilitation center. They’re waiting for services in their family homes and in the community.

People with developmental disabilities — as people, first — aspire to belong. Families today want support in bringing this quintessentially human aspiration to fruition for their loved ones. People of all abilities deserve to grow up together and to know each other within the context of family, school, and community.

The Missouri Planning Council believes that shifting resources from archaic to contemporary models of support is good for all Missourians, including habilitation center residents.

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